It seems like the iconic Nike swoosh has been around forever, but how did this empire actually begin? In Shoe Dog, Nike co-founder, Phil Knight, introduces readers to the world of dreams, ideas, and struggles he experienced on his way to becoming an international sports equipment manufacturer.
This memoir is a raw account of the challenges Knight faced as he began to follow through on his dream to begin a company to import high quality, low cost running shoes from Japan. From that awkward moment of asking to borrow fifty dollars for his first shipment from his father, to quickly being notified that, “…the Bank of Dad, he said, is now closed…”, Knight reveals the challenges he faced as he pursued his dreams.
As a member of the University of Oregon’s track team, Knight began to dream about designing a better running shoe. Once an MBA student at Stanford University, he began to examine the prospect of having Japan manufacture running shoes. What seemed like a far-fetched idea began to take hold when he discovered that his shoe import business, Blue Ribbon Sports, was selling the shoes faster than the factory could produce them.
Knight does not sugar-coat his journey to success. He speaks candidly about the financial struggles he endured and the unconventional methods employed to establish his company. From hiring an art student for thirty-five dollars to design the Nike logo, to selling running shoes out of the trunk of his car, Knight’s methods may have appeared unconventional, but they established him as a no-nonsense businessman.
Shoe Dog is not a list of “How To” steps, or a checklist for starting a business; it is simply an honest account of one man’s journey. It is honest and unapologetic. Knight concludes his memoir with a candid comment: “God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing.”
Erma Appleby is an English Language Arts teacher at Oromocto High School, in Oromocto, New Brunswick. She enjoys the discussion that literature can ignite and the role that it plays in our lives.